culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Wisdom from the father of the world's richest person. "Long Live the Estate Tax!" is Bill Gates Senior's response to the immoral machinations of the White House in its relentless crusade to concentrate wealth. The article appears in
The Nation:
We are now in a second Gilded Age. Instead of taking steps that would strengthen our democracy, we're heading backward to the wealth inequalities of a century ago. We need to preserve the estate tax in states and at the federal level for exactly the reason it is under assault. In a democracy, we should be offended when the power of concentrated wealth brazenly attempts to shape the terms of policy debate and dictate the rules of our society.
Coming from a man who is asking for a tax on his own heirs — the richest family on earth — this logic is all the more striking in its clarity. He is insisting that rational taxation of family wealth is better than the damage to democracy that would otherwise occur.

These ideas are not unique to technology Democrats or their dads, either. Kevin Phillips, the economic historian whose own background is Republican, argues in his excellent book Wealth and Democracy:
For example, by 2000 the United States could be said to have a plutocracy, when back in 1990 the resemblance to the previous plutocracy of the Gilded Age had not yet fully matured. Compared with 1990, America's top millennial fortunes were three or four times bigger, reflecting the high-powered convergence of innovation, speculation, and mania in finance and technology. Moreover, the essence of plutocracy, fulfilled by 2000, has been the determination and ability of wealth to reach beyond its own realm of money and control politics and government as well. In America, explains political scientist Samuel Huntington, "money becomes evil not when it is used to buy goods but when it is used to buy power... economic inequalities become evil when they are translated into political inequalities."
If there is a running theme to the political content of this blog, it is best expressed by that quotation. We don't hate wealth or power. We hate the abuses of wealth and power.

Bill Gates Senior's article is heroic because it is ethical in an unethical time. He demands what is right — even when his family has so much to lose. By recognizing the greater good of American democracy, even for the wealthy, he reveals a backbone of political and economic morality that is totally absent from the White House.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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